CCNet 112/2003 - 26 November 2003

Could the flying of Deep Impact offer a glimpse into potential planetary
protection? Given the fear of harmful-to-Earth comets and asteroids, the
technology mustered by Deep Impact might well find future use in hammering
out an anti-incoming object strategy. "Yes, it will provide important
information on the physical properties that will be essential to planning any
threat diversion," A'Hearn of the University of Maryland said. "However, it
will be applicable only to the small subset of potential impactors that are
comets (or extinct comets)."
     --Leonard David,, 25 November 2003

A lunar facility to mitigate the asteroid-comet hazard for the Earth has
been proposed by Russian scientist, Viacheslav Ivashkin of the M.V. Keldysh
Institute of Applied Mathematics. The base would be multi-tasked in its
operation. Solar energy would first be collected at the facility, then converted
into electricity to power both an astronomical observatory and a laser station., 25 November 2003

To dismiss technology as a force multiplier in the war against terrorism, as
some pundits tend to do, is to throw away America's strongest available weapon
in favor of methods that will take years to properly develop. Only by combining
technology, including space technology, with human intelligence as well as
political warfare, can the war in Iraq be won in a reasonable time period.
      --Taylor Dinerman, The Space Review, 24 November 2003

It would be a tragic irony if, in the 21st century, this most technologically
sophisticated of human societies finally succumbs to the unconscious urgings of
fatally self-interested primitive tribalism.
      --William Rees, University of British Columbia, 24 November 2003



    BBC News Online, 25 November 2003

    The New York Times, 25 November 2003

    The Space Review, 24 November 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 26 November 2003

    CO2 Science Magazine, 26 November 2003

    National Review Online, 25 November 2003

    Oliver Manuel <>

     Discovery News, 25 November 2003


By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer

BOULDER, Colorado -- All spacecraft missions aim to be a smashing success. But in the case of NASA's Deep Impact, such desire takes on new meaning in the form of a head-on collision with a comet.

Scientists and engineers are taking a crash course in understanding what's inside Comet 9P/Tempel 1 -- an effort to help deduce how the solar system was formed. Comets are time capsules. They consist of chunks of ice, gas and dust - ancient scraps from the earliest and coldest period of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

At a clean room here at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, both the Deep Impact mission's "flyby" spacecraft and a comet "impactor" are being built, tested, and readied for launch late next year.

Celestial fireworks

Slated for launch in December 2004, Deep Impact is a two-part hit-and-run mission.

After a six-month cruise to Tempel 1, the combined spacecraft approaches the object imaging the icy drifter before the impact. Twenty-four hours before impact, the flyby spacecraft points high-precision tracking telescopes at the comet and releases the impactor into the comet's path.

Now on its own, the impactor -- a specially equipped autonomous craft -- takes a premeditated plunge into the sunlit side of the speeding comet.

The resulting crater could range in size from that of a house to a football stadium. The hole in the comet might be from two to 15 stories deep. In the excavation process, the pristine interior of a comet is to be studied -- truly, in depth. This all takes place while the flyby spacecraft has maneuvered itself to a telescopic front-row seat, but at a safe distance, speeding by the show-and-tell at closest approach some 300 miles (500 kilometers) away.

After special shielding guards against high-velocity particles from the comet's dust tail passing overhead, the flyby spacecraft turns to look at the comet again. The flyby spacecraft takes additional data from the other side of the comet's nucleus.

Images from both the flyby spacecraft and the impactor will be sent back to distant Earth as data in near real-time.

Seemingly in a blend of orbital mechanics, celebratory patriotism and celestial fireworks, Deep Impact's smack down with Tempel 1 is set for July 4, 2005 -- Independence Day for the United States.

"Mini-Me" Impactor

"There's a lot of newness in this program," said Monte Henderson, Deputy Program Manager on the Deep Impact project at Ball Aerospace. "This is our company's first program that sends us into deep space," he told .

Garbed in white smocks, technicians are busily checking and re-checking Deep Impact hardware and software, moving closer to a series of essential confidence-building tests in the coming months.
Sitting side-by-side in the clean room is the flyby spacecraft and the smaller, "Mini-Me" impactor for the Deep Impact Mission.

"In a sense, this program is building two 100-percent capable spacecraft. And that has been a big challenge," Henderson said. The two craft share a large number of parts, such as electrical components and control units. The impactor uses simpler versions of the flyby spacecraft's hardware and software, but sports fewer backup systems.

Often, the impactor gets treated as the little brother to the flyby spacecraft...just the rock that's going to go out and smack into the comet, Henderson stated. "The impactor has become a very smart, fully-autonomous spacecraft. It's capable of maneuvering and taking care of its own positioning and targeting completely independent of what's going on with the flyby spacecraft," he added.

The impactor totes a "cratering mass" -- 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of pure copper.

Pushing the envelope

Work on the Deep Impact mission has been underway since November 1999. It is a NASA Discovery-class mission, the eighth in a series of low-cost, highly focused space science investigations. Total contract value for Deep Impact is $300 million.

It has been an uphill battle wrestling with several technical and cost-growth issues. A year ago, those troubles forced a cancellation review of the project at NASA Headquarters. Issues were eventually resolved, but led to a change in launch date that would have been next month. A year slip to a target liftoff of December 2004 permitted more ground testing of tough-to-master technologies. But that also meant an infusion of extra money to keep engineers on tap for rounds of pre-flight work on spacecraft hardware

Deep Impact has involved numerous cutting-edge technology developments. "We are pushing the envelope in several areas on this mission," Henderson noted.

For one, a new space-based processor was necessary to handle high data rates at comet encounter. On the flyby spacecraft, lightweight shielding had to be created using layers of aluminum sheets to thwart particles encountered as the craft zooms through Comet Temple 1's tail. Also, to hold a pinpoint lock onto the speeding comet, precision-pointing technology was advanced.

"Although we have been struggling with a variety of problems on our spacecraft computer in the last few months, it looks to me as though we have found most of them and are on our way to fixing them.

Fortunately, we have some schedule margin and are therefore looking ahead to launch at the very end of 2004," said Michael A'Hearn, principal investigator for the Deep Impact Mission in response to a separate email question. He is an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.

Sweaty palms

While spacecraft hardware was daunting, still an unknown is what exactly Deep Impact will find at Tempel 1, an object discovered in 1867. The comet has made many passages through the inner solar system orbiting the Sun every 5.5 years. This makes Tempel 1 a good target to study evolutionary change in its mantle, or upper crust.

In fact, a recent assessment of the comet shows it to be smaller than the once projected 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter.

But will the comet be a solid mass? Perhaps it's a jumble of debris underneath an ice shell? Could the impactor just shoot right through the comet? Potato-shaped or dumbbell-shaped? Drawing closer to the object, Deep Impact onboard telescopes and sensors can provide a detailed look.
"It's an evolving science of what this comet is...and what it's made of," Henderson said.

There is a lot of flexibility in the mission over the six months en route to the target. The flight to the comet is to be run from an operations center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. They are the world's leading experts in flying deep space missions and are overall manager of the Deep Impact mission.

Once the impactor is released from the flyby spacecraft, some last-minute chance for mission updates and adjustments prior to comet collision 24-hours later are possible. "But that means sweaty palms making those decisions," Henderson admitted.

Big unknowns

There is a significant ground-based component to the comet mission, said Lucy McFadden, a science team member for Deep Impact. She is a space scientist at the University of Maryland. The entire Deep Impact team consists of more than 250 scientists, engineers, managers, and educators.

Telescope observations of the comet are now underway, and others are being planned, McFadden told in an email response to questions.

"In a year, we'll have small telescope observers measuring the comet's magnitude," McFadden said.

"The advantage to small telescope observations is that there is potential to observe the comet more frequently and get good temporal coverage of its brightness variation as it comes back into the inner solar system."

Deep Impact science team members are engaged in research to better determine exactly what they will encounter at Tempel 1. "Its rotation rate is know pretty well. It is rotating slowly, so we won't hit and then lose sight of the crater due to rotation," McFadden explained.
McFadden pointed out, however, there are big unknowns about Tempel 1.

Are there significant concavities that will cast shadows that will limit our opportunities for hitting a sunlit area? If it is shaped like Comet Borrelly -- NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft flew by this object on September 22, 2001-- chances are good that there will be plenty of sunlit surface exposed, McFadden observed. "After that, the biggest uncertainty is in the nature and structure of the comet itself, and that is why we are doing the experiment. How big a crater will we excavate and how deep will the crater be?"

"We need the observational science community to make complementary observations, both prior to encounter -- to characterize the comet and enable us to plan the experiment -- as well as follow the event from Earth," McFadden said.

Planetary defense

Could the flying of Deep Impact offer a glimpse into potential planetary protection?

Given the fear of harmful-to-Earth comets and asteroids, the technology mustered by Deep Impact might well find future use in hammering out an anti-incoming object strategy.

"Yes, it will provide important information on the physical properties that will be essential to planning any threat diversion," A'Hearn of the University of Maryland said. "However, it will be applicable only to the small subset of potential impactors that are comets (or extinct comets)," he added in response to email queries.

Henderson of Ball Aerospace called Deep Impact a "good learning experiment" in this regard.
"I personally feel like Deep Impact is a lot more complex. If we just wanted to blow up a comet, we wouldn't have to deal with the two spacecraft pointing issues that we've got," Henderson advised. "So impacting a something we'll be able to bring the intelligence forward," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Deep Impact is moving into final testing. It will now be shaked and baked, and undergo acoustic vibration. Its mission draws closer, with a shipping date to Cape Canaveral, Florida slated for next October, followed by mating with a Delta 2 booster.

"We're less than a year from ship," Henderson said. "This is when it gets really exciting. Everybody has been building individual pieces. Now we put it all together and say: 'Prove that it works.'"

Copyright 2003,


A lunar facility to mitigate the asteroid-comet hazard for the Earth has been proposed by Russian scientist, Viacheslav Ivashkin of the M.V. Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics.

The idea was tabled this week at the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) meeting on the Kohala Coast, Hawai'i.

The base would be multi-tasked in its operation. Solar energy would first be collected at the facility, then converted into electricity to power both an astronomical observatory and a laser station.

Ivashkin's proposal has the observatory scanning the heavens for any near-Earth objects (NEOs) -- either comets or asteroids -- that could be on an incoming trajectory harmful to Earth.

"In this case, the laser station is proposed to give a powerful laser effect on that object to deflect or destroy it," Ivashkin reports. The Russian scientist has assessed the amount of solar collecting hardware needed to be planted on the Moon to thwart hazardous NEOS, as well as laser power levels required to produce the desired effects of mitigating troublesome comets or asteroids.

In a paper presented at the ILEWG, Ivashkin concluded that international cooperation in designing, creating and operating the energy-astronomical-laser space base on the Moon is necessary.

Ivashkin's study of the asteroid-comet mitigation concept is being supported by the Russian Foundation for the Basic Studies and the Harbin Institute of Technology, China.

Copyright 2003,


BBC News Online, 25 November 2003
Sites where asteroids struck the Earth millions of years ago may be the key to discoveries of new mineral and metal deposits in the future.
Some geologists believe that sudden, catastrophic impacts could have created some of the world's biggest deposits - in an instant.

Mineral exploitation currently occurring at impact areas includes the world's most profitable gold mine, in South Africa, and a massive nickel and platinum deposit in Canada.

"On average I would say that one quarter of the known impact structures on the Earth have some sort of deposit associated with them," Canada's Natural Resources Department chief scientist Richard Grieve told BBC World Service's Science In Action programme.

"Of that quarter, maybe about half have been actually exploited, either in the past or currently so."

Increasingly, some geologists are questioning the theory that the Earth's rock record changes slowly over time.

Many are now looking for evidence of where rocks have been "shocked" - which would indicate the impact of an asteroid or comet.

Impact lines

"The pressures required to make the textures that we're going to look at can only be made by impact of something like a meteoroid or an asteroid or a comet," said Dr Adrian Jones, of University College London.

The keys to finding such sites are grains of quartz, which, under the microscope, have tell-tale parallel lines that reveal if they were part of an "impact structure", the area where an extraterrestrial body struck the Earth.

Dr Jones added that one recently discovered major nickel deposit in Russia - coupled with two other, previous finds - suggested that some metals might come from the impactors themselves.

"It makes it rather interesting that two or three large impact structures are now associated with the same association of nickel-rich metals," he stated.

"The idea from our modelling and our smaller experiments [is] that the impact crater itself may still retain a mixture of materials, both from the melted crust and from the residue of the meteorite impact that has been redistributed around the crater.

"That would contain a lot of nickel-rich metals and platinum-group elements."

Gas creep

Alternatively, it may be that the impact causes such massive, immediate change that minerals become present in ways they otherwise would not have done.

The disruption caused to the Earth's underlying crust can create the ideal conditions for the deposition of minerals and hydrocarbons, geochemist Ian MacDonald of Cardiff University told Science In Action.

"It's the excavation of the crater - the way that the rocks have been broken up and smashed - that has allowed oil or gas to creep into that structure and accumulate there, for us to drill into and then tap off," he said.

"Or it's been the way that the rocks have melted at the moment of impact that has allowed important metals like nickel or copper or platinum to concentrate or segregate at the bottom of the crater."

But the impact theory is not popular theory with everyone.

"Geologists have always viewed the rock record as something that changes very, very slowly," Dr MacDonald said.

"These catastrophic events, for many of them, were difficult to accept, because they seem to be so at variance with the slow change of geological time that generally happens.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time things happen very slowly."

Copyright 2003, BBC


The New York Times, 25 November 2003


BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 22 - Snapping like rubber bands pulled too tightly, tangled magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun have been spewing waves of radiation and superheated particles at Earth.

So far, the damage has been relatively minor in comparison with significant communications disruptions three years ago. The culprits this year are three volatile sunspots that began erupting last month and set off blackouts in Sweden, damaged satellites and forced some airlines to divert flights from polar routes to escape extra radiation.

And now, after a three-week lull while the Sun's rotation spun them out of view, the sunspots are back within striking distance. The one with the potential to produce the most fireworks, Region 507, is expected to fix its sights squarely on Earth just as Thanksgiving arrives. While all three have decayed a bit, 507 is still roughly eight times the size of Earth.

Predicting the level of havoc that can be wrought by 507 or any other exploding sunspot is a minute-to-minute science. The erratic nature of exploding sunspots leaves researchers with as little as 30 minutes to warn of radiation storms or as much as 17 hours to prepare for speeding clouds of plasma.

Nowhere perhaps is the pressure greater to assess the magnitude of these blasts than within the walls of the Space Environment Center here, home of what could be called the solar storm trackers. Vivid, up-to-date images of the Sun captured by satellites a million miles from Earth constantly blare across an elevated, oversize television screen demanding the team's attention.

To the forecasters here, every sunspot has its own personality and can be dangerously unruly or quickly fizzle into obscurity.

For the last month, the rotating team of several space weather forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has focused on nothing else, darting from computer images of the sun flares to e-mail messages and to telephone calls in an effort to warn thousands of subscribers, like utilities, NASA and the airlines, of the newest storm ratings.

They also answer queries from the public that range from the humorous, like the woman who blamed a speed-trap radar reading of 90 miles an hour on a flare, to the tragic, like those who believe relatives' pacemakers failed during such events. Or those who complain the hair on their arms stands on end. Or that their flaring arthritis is in sync with a solar flare. Or that a homing pigeon loses its internal compass in a geomagnetic storm.

And lately, with the likelihood of storms resuming, so too has the number of calls from concerned travelers fearing extra radiation during their holiday flights.

On Thursday, when the sunspots reappeared with a new round of storms, the space forecasters fell back into formation. A locustlike cloud of charged particles shot out of the Sun at more than two million miles an hour, swarming Earth just after midnight.

Standing beside a fortress of computers, William Murtagh, a forecaster, described the storm as relatively slow moving. Still, he brimmed with the satisfaction of knowing that at least for the day, he had tried to restrain the Sun's devastating fury.

"This one we predicted would arrive in 50 hours, and it actually reached us in 46 - so I'd say that's a pretty good job," Mr. Murtagh said with a smile. "We expected major to severe geomagnetic storm levels, and that's exactly what we're getting now - right on target."

Those predictions have far-reaching impact. The agency's subscribers also include the Coast Guard, most airlines and the military.

The storm trackers' alerts prompted power companies throughout North America to switch to "safe mode" to protect grids from collapse with the heightened solar storm currents. All it took to plunge six million people in Quebec into darkness during a storm in March 1989, Mr. Murtagh said, was one transformer that overheated and shut down.

The frenetic activity in the forecast center on Thursday was only a glimpse of what could come this week, when Regions 507 and 508 stare at Earth. As 508 was rotating away from Earth on Nov. 4, it unleashed a flare that some scientists say was the biggest explosion ever recorded in the solar system.

"It was like being in Miami and seeing a giant hurricane coming toward you that eventually veers off to sea," said Dr. Devrie S. Intrilligator, director of the space plasma laboratory at the Carmel Research Center in Santa Monica, Calif. "We really lucked out because the full force of it didn't head toward Earth."

When it was tucked away on the backside of the Sun, 508 ejected clouds of plasma so enormous that scientists could see them dwarfing the Sun in size as they roared off into space. Now it is Region 507 that Mr. Murtagh's team is bracing for. Rivaling Jupiter in size, it has the potential to bathe Earth with intense storms that could expose airplane passengers to abnormal amounts of radiation around Thanksgiving.

The last time that happened, in late October, the Federal Aviation Authority warned passengers on planes over 25,000 feet at some latitudes that they would accumulate about two millirems of radiation per hour, or two days' worth of radiation on the ground.

What will happen in the next several days is still uncertain. "A severe one could happen, but I think a moderate one at most is more likely," Court Williamson, an operations specialist, told one caller who was concerned about her husband's flight from San Francisco to London the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The forecasters can be on 24-hour call at times like these. Mr. Murtagh recalled talking to an airline from bed at 11 o'clock one night as the company tried to decide whether to proceed with a Newark-to-Beijing flight the next day.

Now and then, even the forecasters are dumbfounded by the connections people draw between the force of the solar storms and everyday life.

"The deputy," began one woman about her son's speeding ticket, "at first said he was going 90, then 75 m.p.h. My son was trying to pull over due to a flat tire, and told the deputy there is no way he could drive at that speed on a flat."

Mr. Murtagh said he was reluctant to rule anything out. "If someone did a study showing geomagnetic storms affect radar guns, you can be sure the legal system would be flooded with millions of people fighting traffic tickets."

The space environment center is fighting a battle of its own in Washington. Instead of the $8.3 million that the agency requested for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, the House allocated $5.3 million and the Senate budgeted no money at all.

"If a major storm hits and we don't exist, the airlines will have no reason not to divert planes away from polar routes or the higher latitudes," said Dr. Ernest Hildner, the center's director. "How much is it worth to expose all those people to all that radiation and increased cancer risk?"

As 507 glares into view, the storm trackers already have warned power companies, satellite operators and holiday travelers.

Those who would have the most reason to be concerned if a major storm did hit, Mr. Murtagh says, would be passengers or crew members on flights that cross over the North Pole, like New York to some parts of Asia. Because of the shape and location of Earth's magnetic field, radiation from violent solar events tends to flow toward the poles and regions at higher latitudes.

"It's costly for airlines to send their planes on the longer route or make them drop from say 38,000 feet to 28,000 to avoid radiation," he said. "But generally they would if we give them the data that shows a strong radiation storm is on the way."

Some European countries have adopted legislation mandating studies into how much radiation passengers are exposed to during solar flares and others have regulations to protect flight crews. One popular analogy that quantifies radiation exposure while flying in numbers of chest X-rays, said Joe Kunches, chief of the space weather operations division, is often imprecise.

"Are we talking about chest X-rays today or many years ago?" Mr. Kunches said. "What side of the plane are you on? How high is it flying? There are just too many variables involved."

Copyright 2003, The New York Times


The Space Review, 24 November 2003

Space assets proved essential in the invasion of Iraq; can space technology play a
greater role there now?

by Taylor Dinerman

Monday, November 24, 2003
Since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, 2003, the new war in Iraq has developed into a counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist type of low-intensity conflict that the US military has traditionally tried to avoid. It is a highly political war that requires political sensitivities that Americans, let alone American soldiers, have never really had. So they are doing what Americans do best-they are improvising, they are adapting, and they are learning.

Unfortunately, the enemy is doing the same thing. It is beginning to look as if they are, as they saying goes, getting inside our decision action loop. This is better known as the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop. On the battlefield, the US military has few problems getting inside the enemy's cycle but, in this kind of a war, the enemy can make its plans and preparations hidden from US and allied intelligence until the time comes to strike. There is no way that a UAV or an electronic listening system can effectively get inside the heads of the members of a terrorist cell that is deciding where and when to plant a roadside bomb or to fire a rocket or mortar.

Normally, human intelligence is the solution to this. However, police and counter-terrorist forces have been trying to crack the cell structure that terrorist organizations have used for more than a hundred years, since it was invented by anti-Czarist Russians. For the most part they have failed, and when limited success has been achieved, the methods are so repugnant to Western sensibilities that a positive tactical outcome results in a strategic victory for the terrorists.

In the Nineties, the Algerian and Egyptian governments were able to more or less eradicate their homegrown Islamic terrorists. The methods they used cannot be replicated by the US nor its allies if we wish to reach the most important strategic goal, which is to install a democracy in Iraq. The slow and methodical process of building up a reasonably honest, competent, and humane Iraqi police force is going to take a long time. In the long term, such a police force will be able to eradicate the terrorist better than any US military force ever will but, in the short term, the US and its allies have got to find ways to bring these enemies under control.

To dismiss technology as a force multiplier in the war against terrorism, as some pundits tend to do, is to throw away America's strongest available weapon in favor of methods that will take years to properly develop. Only by combining technology, including space technology, with human intelligence as well as political warfare, can the war in Iraq be won in a reasonable time period. Already, the DoD is putting a big effort into adapting its existing systems to the needs of the guys on the ground in Iraq. Creativity, rather than big budgets, is what is now needed.

For example, archeologists have developed methods using satellite remote sensing data to find ancient trade routes that once crisscrossed the desert. There is no reason that the DoD cannot use these same methods to detect smuggling routes used by terrorists to infiltrate Iraq.

The GPS and weather satellites need not only to be kept at peak operating effectiveness, but their operators need to be constantly thinking of innovative ways to use them to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Weather forecasters should concentrate on determining what weather condition degrade the heat seeking systems on the SA-7 and the other shoulder fired missiles used against our aircraft. The GPS units inside Air Force Space Command should be thinking about how to improve the speed with which target coordinates are transmitted from a mortar detecting radar to an Apache helicopter or other "shooter."

Other new ideas include finding ways to use high-powered microwaves to disable the detonators on roadside bombs, or new sensors that can detect explosives. There is a lot of interesting technology, both inside the Pentagon and in the civilian marketplace. Finding ways to get it into the hands of the troops on the ground as soon as possible is the biggest challenge. Procurement regulations are designed to insure that no one ever cheats the government. These regulations now insure that no soldier will ever get what he or she needs until long after they are dead, wounded or discharged.

It took more than 10 years to move the Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the concept stage to units in the field. Other systems have taken even longer. Rumsfeld has been trying to change the way the Department does business. Some concepts, such as the Advanced Technology Concept Demonstration projects, are changing the way things happen, but now speed is by far the most important thing.

Some new technology is flowing into Iraq. A flood of new technology could overwhelm the enemy. They may be able to adapt to one or two new systems every month-there is no way they could confront one or two dozen new weapons and sensors. Some of the new systems will probably not work as planned. This should be expected and should not discourage the military from continuously trying new things.

The goal should be to create more new problems for them every day, than they create for us. Whether we do it with technology or tactics may not matter. The aim should be to eradicate their ability to use the OODA cycle. We must constantly be thinking about how can we change the situation faster than they can adapt.

Taylor Dinerman is editor and publisher of


CO2 Science Magazine, 26 November 2003

Khandekar, L. 2003. Comment on WMO statement on extreme weather events.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 428.

What was done
The author briefly reviews what he learned about extreme weather events in Canada in the course of conducting a study of the subject for the government of Alberta; and he mentions the findings of several other recent studies of the subject.

What was learned
Khandekar says his research led him to conclude that "extreme weather events such as heat waves, rain storms, tornadoes, winter blizzards, etc., are not increasing anywhere in Canada at this time."  He additionally notes that a recent special issue of Natural Hazards (Vol. 29, No. 2, June 2003) concludes much the same thing about other parts of the world. In this context, he cites a recent survey article by Robert Balling that concludes "there is no significant increase in overall severe storm activity (hurricanes, thunderstorms/tornadoes, winter blizzards) across the conterminous United States," as well as an article by Stanley Changnon, which concludes that "increasing economic loss due to weather extremes in the conterminous United States is a result of societal change and not global warming."

What it means
Contrary to the recent statement of the World Meteorological Organization on extreme weather events, which that organization suggests are increasing in association with global warming (and for which Khandekar chastises them for not knowing better), there are no significant increasing trends in these phenomena, as may readily be verified by perusing the Journal Reviews we have archived in our Subject Index under the many sub-sections of the general heading Weather Extremes.

Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


CO2 Science Magazine, 26 November 2003

In our Editorial of 19 Nov 2003, we describe the work of Ge et al. (2003), who utilized 200 different sets of phenological and meteorological records to produce a 2000-year history of winter half-year temperature for the region of China bounded by latitudes 27 and 40N and longitudes 107 and 120E.  This study provided evidence for the existence of what in other parts of the world have come to be called the Roman Warm Period, the Dark Ages Cold Period, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and the Modern Warm Period.  In addition, it indicated that although the temperature of the region rose rapidly during the twentieth century, especially over the period 1981-1999, temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period rose higher still, and remained higher for several 10- and 30-year time periods.

In this Editorial, we describe the somewhat similar work of Bao et al. (2003), who utilized proxy climate records (ice-core 18O, peat-cellulose 18O, tree-ring widths, tree-ring stable carbon isotopes, total organic carbon, lake water temperatures, glacier fluctuations, ice-core CH4, magnetic parameters, pollen assemblages and sedimentary pigments) obtained from twenty previously-published studies to derive a 2000-year temperature history of the Tibetan Plateau, after first developing similar temperature histories for its northeastern, southern and western sections.  So what did they find?

The temperature histories of the three parts of the Tibetan Plateau were all significantly different from each other. In each case, however, they had one important similarity: there was more than one prior 50-year period of time when the mean temperature of each of them was warmer than it was over the most recent 50-year period. In the case of the northeastern sector of the Tibetan Plateau, these maximum-warmth intervals occurred during the Medieval Warm Period; while in the case of the western sector, they occurred near the end of the Roman Warm Period.  In the case of the southern sector, however, they occurred during both warm periods, as well as during the Dark Ages Cold Period! Hence, for all three portions of the Tibetan Plateau, there has been nothing unusual or unnatural about their most recent warm temperatures.

With respect to the entire Tibetan Plateau, the story is pretty much the same: there has been nothing extraordinary about the recent past. For the whole region, however, there was only one prior 50-year period when temperatures were warmer than they were over the most recent 50-year period; and that interval occurred near the end of the Roman Warm Period, some 1850 years ago.

After presenting their findings for the Tibetan Plateau, Bao et al. compare them with those of Wang and Gong (2000) for central east China, which are significantly different. In the latter history, for example, the most recent temperatures are the warmest of the record; but the central east China record of Wang and Gong only goes back about 1200 years and thus does not include the period of most extraordinary warmth found in the record of Boa et al. Hence, the data of Wang and Gong cannot provide a definitive answer to the question of whether the warmth they document in the latter part of the central east China record is unprecedented over the past two millennia.

Nevertheless, it is possible to make this determination with the much longer central east China record of Ge et al. (2003), which is also more up-to-date and more comprehensive in terms of the number of data sets upon which it is based and is thus likely to be more accurate over the entire 2000-year period of concern. When this is done, as noted in our Editorial of 19 Nov 2003, it is found that the most recent warmth of central east China, like that of the Tibetan Plateau, is not unprecedented over the past two millennia. Hence, over two "big chunks of China," we can confidently say that modern temperatures have yet to rise to levels previously experienced over the past two thousand years.

In closing, we additionally note that the Mann and Jones (2003) study of "global surface temperatures over the past two millennia," which claims uniqueness for the warmth of the latter part of the 20th century, actually extends back in time to only AD 200 and, hence, does not include what could well be the warmest portion of the 2000-year period in question, as demonstrated by Boa et al.'s study of the Tibetan Plateau. In fact, even warmer temperatures may have occurred sometime prior to the BC-to-AD transition, as suggested by the study of McDermott et al. (2001).

When all is said and done, therefore, the analyses climate alarmists ask us to accept as definitive with respect to earth's near-surface air temperature history are by no means sufficient to prove the point they and the studies' authors are attempting to make. And, hence, there is no reason to believe that earth's current temperatures could not have risen to their present level without the help of the historical rise in the air's CO2 content.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso  
Bao, Y., Brauning, A. and Yafeng, S.  2003.  Late Holocene temperature fluctuations on the Tibetan Plateau.  Quaternary Science Reviews 22: 2335-2344.

Ge, Q., Zheng, J., Fang, X., Man, Z., Zhang, X., Zhang, P. and Wang, W.-C.  2003.  Winter half-year temperature reconstruction for the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River and Yangtze River, China, during the past 2000 years.  The Holocene 13: 933-940.

Mann, M.E. and Jones, P.D.  2003.  Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia.  Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2003GL017814.

McDermott, F., Mattey, D.P. and Hawkesworth, C.  2001.  Centennial-scale Holocene climate variability revealed by a high-resolution speleothem 18O record from SW Ireland.  Science 294: 1328-1331.

Wang, S.W. and Gong, D.Y.  2000.  Temperature changes in China during several special periods of the Holocene.  Progress in Natural Science 10: 325-332.

Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


National Review Online, 25 November 2003

By Dave Kopel & Carlo Stagnaro

The international global-warming war will heat up next Monday. On that day, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will hold its ninth Conference of the Parties in Milan, Italy. Although Russia has already opted out of the climate-change controls, western European governments appear determined to go ahead with strict local controls, regardless of what other countries do.

The western European public overwhelmingly believes in global warming, and wants government to do something about it. Asked if "European governments should take the lead against global warming by bringing into force the climate treaty, even if the U.S. doesn't take part at this time," 80 percent of people in the United Kingdom answered "Yes." So did 82 percent in Belgium, 89 percent in Italy, and 88 percent in Spain. Even large majorities in the U.K., Italy, and Spain believed that government "should do more to reduce the country's own emissions of global warming pollution."

For Europe's sclerotic economies, the massive increases in energy prices that would result from strict reductions of "greenhouse gasses" would be devastating. According to a 2002 study of the economic effects on the U.K., depression is a possible outcome of such a move. Between 2008 and 2010, the U.K. could lose up to one million jobs a year. Moreover, the productivity of individual jobs would decrease because of the efficiency reduction (greater cost) of all the other production factors.

Dr. Margo Thorning performed a study ( about four European countries and estimated that the Kyoto Protocol would have a strong negative impact on the GNP of various nations: a decrease of 5.2 percent for Germany, 5 percent for Spain, 4.5 percent for the U.K., and 3.8 percent for the Netherlands.

If Europeans knew that the Kyoto Treaty would seriously harm their economies and significantly reduce their standard of living, would they still support Kyoto? Would they be willing to suffer the economic damage if they learned that industrial activity was not a cause of global warming?

These are precisely the questions that will be posed by an Italian free-market think tank, the Instituto Bruno Leoni, at a global-warming conference on Saturday - two days before the U.N. conference opens in Milan. The IBL is named after the late Italian political philosopher Bruno Leoni. The conference is co-sponsored by the Centro Europeo di Studi su Popolazione (CESPAS) and Sviluppo e Ambiente (an Italian organization that studies the relationship between humanity and environment), and has received the patronage of the Italian ministry of the environment.

The conference will point out that, contrary to the assertions of much of the European media, orthodox science does not really hold a single position on whether global warming is taking place or whether it is anthropogenic. This will be discussed by University of Virginia professor S. Fred Singer, journalist Dominic Standish, the High Frontier Foundation's Klaus Heiss, and Italian Air Force major Fabio Malaspina. A panel on this topic will be chaired by Prof. Franco Battaglia of the Third University of Rome.

The International Policy Network (IPN) - a U.K.-based think tank that promotes pro-freedom approaches to issues relating to sustainable development, health, technology, and trade - will also contribute to the conference. IPN's Julian Morris will chair the second panel at the conference, which will focus on the economics of global warming. Speakers will include Antonio Gaspari of CESPAS, Prof. Emilio Gerelli of the University of Pavia, IPN's Kendra Okonski, and Dr. Margo Thorning of the International Council for Capital Formation. The speakers will analyze the costs and benefits of Kyoto-inspired policies. Such policies impose very high costs in the present, while promising benefits in the long term that are exceedingly uncertain. The Kyoto policies are guaranteed to harm people today, and for generations to come.

A third panel will consider why European politicians are so willing to harm their own people. Speakers will include three representatives from Italian political parties: Franco Debenedetti (Democratic Left), Vittorio Emanuele Falsitta (Forza Italia party), and Benedetto Della Vedova (Radical party). Fred Smith of the American Competitive Enterprise Institute will also take part.

Excessive faith in central planning and excessive pessimism about the ability of humans to innovate have depressed the European standard of living for decades. The Kyoto Protocol, as well as local analogues, represent one of the worst trade-offs between freedom and security that Europeans have ever faced. The benefits are based on dubious science and would, even in the most optimistic scenario, result in barely perceptible reductions in temperature. The costs are clear and enormous and will make it nearly impossible for Western Europe to regain the economic vitality which once made it the center of global civilization. That international scholars, with the blessing of the Italian government, are convening to point out that the Kyoto emperor has no clothes suggests that there is at least some hope for Europe.

- Dave Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute. Carlo Stagnaro is a fellow of the International Policy Network.

Copyright 2003, National Review

========== LETTERS =========


Oliver Manuel <>

There is a revealing photo from the Hubble telescope of a dying star at

The death of this star called V Hydrae will be reported in the Nov.
20 issue of Nature by Dr. Raghvendra Sahai of NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.

This photo is remarkably like a depiction of the event that made the
Sun and its heterogeneous planetary system.  See Figure 1 in "The
Sun's Origin, Composition and Source of Energy" 32nd Lunar &
Planetary Science Conference, Abstract #1041, Houston, TX, March
12-16, 2001.

With kind regards,



Discovery News, 25 November 2003

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Nov. 25, 2003 - A study that compared humans with other species concluded there are 1,000 times too many humans to be sustainable.

The study, published in the current Proceedings B (Biological Sciences) by the Royal Society, used a statistical device known as "confidence limits" to measure what the sustainable norm should be for species populations. Other factors, such as carbon dioxide production, energy use, biomass consumption, and geographical range were taken into consideration.

"Our study found that when we compare ourselves to otherwise similar species, usually other mammals of our same body size, for example, we are abnormal and the situation is unsustainable," said Charles Fowler, co-author of the paper and a lead researcher at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Fowler likened the concept of normality to body temperature, where measurements can fall above or below the accepted average. A temperature of 105 degrees F, for example, is considered abnormal and unsustainable. In his paper, Fowler and colleague Larry Hobbs argue that the human population, now measured at approximately 6 billion, falls outside the range of sustainability, which puts us at risk.

"Collectively the risks reflect the complexity of biotic systems, but specifically (they) include things like the risk of extinction, starvation, and disease," Fowler told Discovery News.

Such pathologies can be alleviated, according to the paper, but changes would have to be profound and widespread.

"It is probably not unrealistic to say that nothing less than a full paradigm shift is required to get there from here," Fowler explained. "It requires changes in our thinking, belief systems and understanding of ourselves."

William Rees, professor of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia, disagrees that humans are abnormal and said, "I would use the term 'unusual' instead."

Rees explained that humanity has been inordinately successful. Unlike other species, humans can eat almost anything, adapt to any environment and develop technologies based on knowledge shared through written and spoken language.

Rees, however, said that we may be "fatally successful." He agrees that industrial society as presently configured is unsustainable.

"In the past 25 years we have adopted a near-universal myth of 'sustainable development' based on continuous economic growth through globalization and freer trade," Rees wrote in a recent Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society paper. "Because the assumptions hidden in the globalization myth are incompatible with biophysical reality the myth reinforces humanity's already dysfunctional ecological behavior."

Rees believes unsustainability is, in part, driven by a natural predisposition to expand, in the same way that bacteria or any other species will multiply. He claims that it is an old problem, reflected in the collapses of numerous civilizations, such as the early human population at Easter Island.

Rees told Discovery News that there is a way out, but he wonders if we will take it.

Rees added, "It would be a tragic irony if, in the 21st century, this most technologically sophisticated of human societies finally succumbs to the unconscious urgings of fatally self-interested primitive tribalism."

Copyright 2003 Discovery Communications Inc.

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